Walker's crisp finish sets young Whites on road to Palace glory
WANDERERS Under-18s got their first win of the Premier League Elite Group phase with a 2-1 triumph at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
David Lee and Tony Kelly’s side travelled to the capital having lost six league matches since their impressive pre-Christmas form saw them advance to the higher level alongside the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton and Fulham.
But a good run to the last eight of the FA Youth Cup illustrated their ability and they broke their league duck against the young Eagles.
A Tom Walker strike and an own goal sealed the points in a victory that coach Lee felt was even more commendable for being achieved by a side including seven first-year apprentices in the starting XI.
Lee said: “With seven first years in the team, the physical aspect of the game was always going to be tough.
“To the players’ credit, though, they moved the ball well, with some good phases of play.
“We matched Palace physically and outplayed them technically.”
Wanderers were bright from the start and, despite a goalless first half, Tom Youngs saw an effort come back off the post and Saul Hamer had a goal disallowed.
They had more joy after the interval and got their reward on the hour with the opening goal.
Elliot Newby was brought down 20 yards from goal to win a free-kick and Walker stepped up to score direct from the set-piece with a superb low curling strike.
Pressure from Wanderers’ front line forced the Palace defenders into mistakes and that resulted in an own goal 10 minutes from time to double their advantage.
There was still time for a nervous finish when Palace scored from a corner but Wanderers held on for the win.
Lee added: “The performance overall warranted the result.
“The attitude, desire and determination of the very young team was pleasing and bodes well for their development.”